Aptera’s three-wheeled solar EV (SEV) will integrate Comma.ai’s Openpilot driver assistance system that enables compatible vehicles to steer, brake, and stop at red lights (and stop signs) without driver intervention.

The open-source system is already commercially available for over 200 vehicles on the market today, essentially turning them into Level 2 semi-autonomous cars just by plugging in some connectors. Now, the team behind the Aptera SEV says its upcoming car will be compatible with Openpilot at launch and that the necessary hardware will be shipped after the vehicle is delivered. The customer will then be able to install it at home in less than 30 minutes.

Aptera engineers will create and maintain the vehicle-specific code to interface with the rest of the Openpilot code base, which is available on GitHub.

Gallery: 2024 Aptera Launch Edition

Chris McCammon, who is leading Aptera’s Openpilot integration, has been a member of the Openpilot community since 2017:

“Since then, the software has matured immensely and now supports over 200 vehicle models with an easy-to-install kit. Even though Openpilot has vastly surpassed nearly all driver assistance systems on the market today, big auto players have not embraced it. They continue to throw hundreds of millions of dollars into developing their own inferior systems, while Openpilot is open-source software that anyone can implement for free.”

The end-to-end system sends camera data into the software driver model and then a driving path is sent back to the vehicle. This way, Aptera says, the system can adapt to many nuances of the road that humans react to every day, like moving away from semi-trucks on the highway or staying correctly positioned on roads with no lane lines. Further down the line, Aptera vehicles will be able to take exits and suggest lane changes to follow the navigation route.

As of now, Openpilot has the following features: automated lane-centering, adaptive cruise control, assisted lane change, and driver monitoring. With the latter, the system recognizes the driver’s face and if he’s distracted for more than six seconds, it decelerates the vehicle to a complete stop and alerts the driver via audible prompts.

Aptera is currently working on the details of how Openpilot will be integrated into its vehicles, with several validation steps planned to be completed before the start of production, which is yet to be announced.

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